Helen Weir
October 20, 2015
Synod sound-off
By Helen Weir

When the Synod on the Family 2015 comes to a conclusion, we will find out the answers to a number of harrowing questions. Will there be a final document issued at all and, if so, who will be its authors? Will Catholic doctrine on critical matters of morality be faithfully proclaimed, or will there be enough ambiguities and loopholes left to make the tax code itself seem straightforward? What will the "conservatives" do if the rhetoric doesn't break their way? The "liberals"?

Time will tell, on these and other matters. Still, there are things that can, should, and must be said right now. Here are a few of them.
  1. Nothing, and no one, can change the truth. Reality can be misrepresented, of course, either deliberately or through ignorance, but what is, in and of itself, can never be impacted. People seem afraid that the outcome of the Synod will alter either the nature of the Catholic Church or of the sacrament of Matrimony, forgetting that neither thing could ever take place. Perhaps one reason that Divine Providence is permitting us to go through this trial is to clear up confusion not about communion for the adulterously "remarried" or about the sinfulness of active homosexuality, but about the reliability of God Himself. Whatever happens at the Synod or anywhere else, He is still God, and His representatives remain accountable to Him rather than the other way around.

  2. That Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8) is no excuse for moral somnolence. If the "liberals" are trying to sell us on the destructively twisted notion that everything is new, the "conservatives" are trying to lull us into a culpable cultural passivity with the observation that nothing is. There have always been (we are gently informed, at the expression of any level of concern) crises in the life of the Church. This is like pointing out to the fleeing inhabitants of Pompeii that volcanoes have erupted before and will, most likely, erupt again. For all we know, that is what they were being told.

  3. It is up to every person of good will to testify to the truth. While Pope Francis recently warned against a "hermeneutic of conspiracy" as a framework for interpreting the workings of the Synod, he has yet to denounce what we might term the mounting "advisability of silence" in its regard. Commitment to openness, transparency, and dialogue is called into question by the staggering spectacle of disinvitations, pulled press credentials, and inexplicable, ambiguous gestures that voice a nonverbal narrative of their own. This implicit "advisability" is something that each of us individually, and all of us collectively, must repel at the very outset. We must not wait to see if a handful of heroic cardinals manage to create an ideological bubble zone in which it is safe, within certain circles and employing but a smattering of vetted expressions, to speak our minds. No; the time to declare our full and unflinching fidelity to Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn. 14:6), is right now.

  4. What the Holy Father can and must do, he has the right and the obligation to do; what we have the right and the obligation to do, can and must be done by each one of us. The coalition of pro-life, pro-family groups called Voice of the Family (www.voiceofthefamily.com) has its finger in the dike for all of us, gathering pertinent news stories and pinpointing theological considerations worthy of our attention and response. (LifeSiteNews, of course, cannot be overlooked in this regard, but its editorial attention extends beyond the Synod and Catholic questions per se.) I cannot express my gratitude towards, and respect for, these and other faithful media outlets resoundingly enough. At the same time, however, it is necessary to point out some troubling terminology from Voice of the Family's "Filial Appeal"(www.filialappeal.org) to Pope Francis which may – inadvertently but really – be contributing to the crisis rather than alleviating it.

    The "Filial Appeal" says, worthily enough, that the Vicar of Christ needs to clarify Catholic teaching about marriage and the family. Problematically, though, it goes on to assert that:

      in these circumstances, a word from Your Holiness is the only way to clarify the growing confusion amongst the faithful (emphasis added).

    Subtly, the "Appeal" itself buys into the "papal positivism" at the root of the present disarray. Now, it is obvious what this section is supposed to mean; it would be wonderful, salutary, and uniquely essential for the Holy Father to step up to the plate in a way that only the one walking in the shoes of the Fisherman can do. Still, what if Pope Francis doesn't respond to what the "Appeal" rightly urges? What if Synod 2015 comes and goes, leaving the defenders of the family in the lurch? Conversely, what if the Holy Father does reaffirm the constant Tradition of the Catholic Church in some stunning way? Would this mean that the rest of us are off the hook?

    No. Not all of us are the Pope or even the Pope Emeritus, but we are Christ's Faithful. As Canon 212 specifies and guarantees, we too have the right and the duty to speak the truth. The Holy Father, in the last analysis, will be accountable before the throne of God for what he does or does not do. That will be the case for each of us as well. God doesn't need us, but He chooses to enlist our cooperation in achieving His own ends. It is on Him that we must now, without reservation, depend.
The cultural crisis in which we are engulfed cannot, in other words, be wholly addressed by the Synod on the Family, whatever its outcome. What, then, is to be done? Nothing short of complete witness to Christ will suffice, and there is only one who has witnessed to Him completely. If you have not made your Total Consecration to Mary Immaculate according to the Kolbean formula (which includes an apostolic dimension, beyond the self-donation that the de Montfort model requires), now is the time to make it (www.consecration.com). The apostolic dimension is important because, through it, we commit ourselves to spreading Total Consecration rather than only living it. It is cruel to witness to the reality of sin without witnessing, at the same time, to the Perfect Redemption of the Mother of God, whom sin never touched. To lead every person living now and who will live in the future to Jesus through Mary is to accompany them in charity and truth through this valley of tears.

We must recognize with Father Maximilian Kolbe that we have our own free will, but not that of other people. The "liberals" must stop denying the liberty and human dignity of the adulterously "remarried" and the actively homosexual by trying to impose upon them a relationship with God and His Church which they have rejected for themselves. The "conservatives" should stop denying their own liberty and human dignity by implying that someone – anyone – even the Holy Father himself – has the ability to prevent them from conforming their lives to the plan of God.

Finally, we must find a way of making our convictions respectfully known. Write to your Bishop, whether you expect to be ignored or not. Use Facebook, blogs, and even Letters to the Editor (which still exist). Call in to your local radio station. Don't bite your tongue in private conversation, giving the impression that you agree with things that cannot bear the approval of any Christian anywhere. It is not only the Holy Father who needs to hear from us. It is the whole world.

And pray. Pray the Rosary, especially. Let us pray and not leave off until we cannot, on this earth, pray any more.

© Helen Weir

 

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Helen Weir

Helen Weir is a teacher and freelance writer currently (like Snoopy's brother, Spike) enjoying the company of the cacti of the American southwest. She belongs to the Militia Immaculatae movement of Total Marian Consecration founded by Saint Maximilian Kolbe, the Hero of Auschwitz.

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